Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Puff-faced mud snake

Homalopsis buccata

(Carolus Linnaeus, 1758)

In Thai: งูหัวกะโหลก, ngu hua galog

Homalopsis buccata (puff-faced water snake or masked water snake) is a species of mildly venomous snake in the Homalopsidae family found in tropical areas of Southeast Asia.


Upper labials 1–4 contact single loreal; two prefrontals; 33–40 dorsal scale rows at mid-body, usually reduced to fewer than 30 posteriorly; one postocular plus a postsubocular; 12 (11–14) upper labials; ventral count fewer than 166.

Homalopsis buccata has a banded pattern and usually reaches 1 meter (3 feet) in length. They have a somewhat similar body build to the anaconda, but instead of constriction they use a mild venom from a grooved rear fang to subdue prey.


H. buccata ranges from northern Sumatra to Salanga Island, Indonesia and Borneo; it is present on the Malaysian peninsula and in extreme southern Thailand (vicinity of Pattani).


H. buccata are ovoviviparous, meaning they do not lay eggs but rather give birth to live young. Females give birth to 2-20 live young, with an average of 9.26 young per breeding. Studies have shown this species breeds year round, with a peak season of October–March (though no distinctive breeding season was found).


H. buccata prey are said to include: tilapia, guppy, catfish, Asian swamp eel, various other small fish, a variety of frogs, freshwater crustaceans.

In captivity, the species feeds readily on minnows, goldfish, various cichlid fish, tilapia, Mollies (Poecilia), and tadpoles.

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Scientific classification

Homalopsis buccata

Common names

  • German: Boa-Wassertrugnatter
  • English:
    • Puff-faced mud snake
    • Linne’s water snake
    • Masked water snake
    • Puff-faced water snake
  • Thai:
    • งูหัวกะโหลก, ngu hua galog
    • งูเหลือมอ้อ, ngu leuam oor


  • Homalopsis buccata, John C. Murphy & Harold K. Voris (2014)
  • Homalopsis buccata, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Homalopsis buccata, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Homalopsis buccata, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Homalopsis buccatus, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1854)
  • Homalopsis buccata, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Homalopsis monilis, Friedrich Boie (1827)
  • Homalopsis horridus, Heinrich Kuhl & Johan Coenraad van Hasselt (1822)
  • Coluber horridus, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Vipera buccata, François Marie Daudin (1803)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Homalopsis buccata

Public domain Nelly de Rooij

Homalopsis buccata

Range Map

Distribution map of Puff-faced mud snake, Homalopsis buccata in Thailand
  • Betong District, Yala
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Khok Pho District, Pattani
  • Mueang Narathiwat District, Narathiwat
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Na Mom District, Songkhla
  • Su-ngai Kolok District, Narathiwat
  • Tak Bai District, Narathiwat
  • Thale Ban National Park
Range map of Homalopsis buccata in Thailand